Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Typically marriage invloves promises of exclusivity because of the nature of comprehensive , personal and private self-disclosure that includes sexuality between the partners. This exclusiveness symbolizes the love relationship and therefore most couples accept that this intimacy, physical or emotional, should not be shared with extra marital partners.

Men tend to suffer and resent a wife's infidelity based on the physical intimacy she has with another partner more, while women tend to suffer and resent most the emotional intimacy their husband might have with another partner. Physical and emotional intmacy with an extra marital partner is the most disapproved of logically.

In the General Social Survey of 1988-2000 it was reported that for all Americans, the "happiness maximizing number of sexual partners...is one. " This would indicate that in this particular survey, everyone agreed that one would be the most happy having only one sexual partner. Considering the large number of affairs happening every year, one has to wonder if the people reporting really believed that.

In other sociolgical reseach in 2000, the researchers found that entering into an extramarital affair was a rational decision, generally not spontaneous or the result of too much alcohol, nor as a consequence of overwhelming romantic passion. They found in their work that individuals who were more likely to engage in affairs had more permissive values, thought about sex daily, had been in their marriage a long while and have had more past sex partners. (Treas, Gleason 2000)

With the advent of chat rooms after 1990 on the Internet and other electronic means, cyber adultery took wing. Most readers here will well know the standard procedure; establishing contact with an unknown person, chatting amicably, flirting, exchanging pictures and words of affection, often love, verbally caressing the partner to overt sexual talk. Phone calls follow, pillow talk ensues, and eventually a meeting takes place. If the couple meeting continues to find the other attractive and sexually appealing, sexual intercourse may happen.

The negative effects that are possible on discovery of infidelity include jealousy, anger, or even fury, broken trust, discord, seeking of therapy, and a possible end to the marriage. The potential positive effects on discovery of the affair, might encourage a closer relationship for the married partners, greater attention to couple communication and the placement of a higher value on family.

Infidelity does not always lead to divorce. Research indicates that marital dissatisfaction is a factor, motives one has to separate, attitudes toward infidelity, boredom, general unhappiness and more.

Can couples recover after adultery? Definitely. It depends on how much trust there was in the relationship before the affair, therapeutic or coaching intervention, apologies, accepting responsibility, allowing trust to rebuild gradually (which could take a long time), kissing up to the wounded partner (let's be honest) and of course open communication about the needs each partner has, maturity and integrity.

Some couples avoid infidelity, by expecting that it might happen and taking a different approach to the problem which includes threesomes, open marriage, swinging and a host of other possibilities ranging from co-habiting , not marrying and not being exclusive, joining sex clubs together and other arrangements. Some couples explore the potential with honest and open communication before the event occurs and discuss feelings.

An interesting take on infidelity is presented in the movie, Random Hearts, starring Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Pornography has taken on a life of its own. Far more available than it was twenty years ago, virtually anyone can access some form of it even those underage. What qualifies as pornography to some is not the same as what is leagally defined as pornography either. Consequently the relatively innocent voyeur who is curious and wanders into accessible free pages may get a whole new education with regard to what turns some people on.

While for most this might be a variable source of enticement and sexual pleasure on occasion, for others the draw may become more frequent. For some it may be the only source of sexual pleasure and for others it may become a habit, an obsession, or an addiction. Some individuals may even become dependent on the high it produces for them.

Pornography (porn) is defined as he portrayal of explicit sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual excitement and erotic satisfaction. It is displayed in a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, or video games. Even amateur pornogrphy has become widely popular and has been widely distributed on the Internet for free. Pornography by most societal standards in the United States is usually considered obscene. However as convenient and available as it is, social attitudes have emerged indicating more tolerance of sexual portrayals.

The legal status of pornography varies widely from country to country. Most countries allow at least some form of pornography. In some countries, like the United States, softcore pornography is considered tame enough to be sold in general stores or to be shown on TV. Hardcore pornography is usually regulated and in most countries the possession of child pornography is illegal. Some countries restrict the distribution of pornography that includes violence or sex with an animal.

On the other hand, pornography producer Larry Flynt and the writer Salman Rushdie, have argued that pornography is vital to freedom and that a free and civilized society should be judged by its willingness to accept pornography. In constrast, some feminist critics of pornography consider pornography demeaning to women. They believe that most pornography eroticizes the domination, humiliation, and coercion of women, reinforces sexual and cultural attitudes that are complicit in rape and sexual harassment, and contributes to the objectification of women.

Some religious groups discourage members from viewing pornography, and support legislation restricting its publication. These positions derive from broader religious beliefs about human sexuality.

There is a dispute about whether pornography addiction exists as well as to whether or not it has harmful effects. Some sex therapists argue that it is a real addiction with serious consequences, while others argue it is not comparable to substance addiction and should not be classed as such. Psychotherapists who see it as addictive suggest that using self-control therapeutic measures such as filters that limit access on the Internet could be used to curb the addiction.

Research relative to an extra-marital affair being caused by or contributed to by the use of pornography is difficult to find.

Friday, July 23, 2010


In the book chapter I'm working on now, I discuss gender disparity or differences and similarities between the genders with regard to an affair. Reliable statistics have been difficult to come by, especially in the past because of the sensitivity of the subject or how the research was conducted.

Today, however, individuals have become more open about their opinions and experiences , although accurate results from larger populations is still relatively limited. Here are just a few interesting current observations and results:

7% of married men are more likely to be unfaithful to their wives, than
women are to their husbands. The conjecture is that men are more likely to
continue having affairs into their 50’s and 60’s, while women are more likely to stop in their 50’s. Once again the need for men to spread their seed and improve
their gene pool is given as explanation followed by the thought that maybe
men are just more willing to admit to having affairs than are women.

39% more likely to have an affair living in a large city rather than a small
town or rural area.

If you earn $75,000 rather than $30,000 a year you are 150% more likely to
have an affair.

A husband who spends less than 10% of his time with his wife, can expect a
10% chance that his wife will stray. (Only 10%)?

More than 90% of the general population believes that it is “always” or “almost always” wrong for a married person to have sex with someone other than their

Regardless of that belief, extra-marital sex happens. Many times what for one partner in an affair is a magical connection, for another , it could be just a pleasant time. For the unknowing wife or husband, the affair has an impact on the marriage. Once known the affair may injure the partner in a myriad of ways and could end in divorce.

Although many affairs are short-lived, some endure. For some the enjoyable company of each other, the friendship that develops, the affection and mutual support becomes the substance of a loving relationship, often echoing the form of their own marriages at some stage.

Chapter Three of Adultery is Universal; But I'm Getting Married Anyway; What to Know before You Do or Already Have covers perspectives men and women have along with the taboo aspects, sexually active teens' impressions and behaviors, same-sex paerners and love.


(Bruce Elmslie and Edinaldo, Tebaldi (2008). So, what did you do last night? The economics of infidelity. Kyklos, 61 (3), 391-410.).

Judith Treas and Giesen, Deirdre. Sexual infidelity among married and cohabiting Americans (2000). Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62 (1), 48-60.

David Atkins and Baucom, Donald (2001): Understanding infidelity

Friday, June 11, 2010


Getting this book ready for publication is a time consuming and a research heavy endeavor. It's fun and interesting though, and really educational, but WhoooHoo- hard to get back here. Never the less, I plan to post at least once a week now- hopefully even more, so please check back frequently.

One of the chapters in Adultery is Universal, deals with variation in attitudes, moral and legal aspects relating to sexual activity between those in the United States and other countries. The age of consent is the age when the law says you can agree to have sex.

In countries like Albania, Angola, Barbados, Guinea, Ghana, Iran, Kuwait, Liberia, Morrocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and quite a few others, it is illegal to have sex with someone of the same gender. In the majority of countries and most states in the U.S., the legal age of consent is 16.

In Pakistan and a number of countries, you must be married to have sex legally. Premarital sex or sex outside of marriage is condemmed and there are punishments for violating the law. In Liechtenstein, Puerto Rico, Lithuania, Estonia, and Ecuador, the legal age of consent is 14 across the board, males, females , and same gender. In some countries like Israel the male must be 14 and the female 16. In India, the age of consent is 16 for heterosexual sex, excpet in Manipaur, where it is 14. In Japan the age of consent is 13, although the federal law is often overridden by regional laws which requires the age to be 18. In the state of California it is a flat 18 years old whether the relationship is hetero or homosexual, and regardless of gender.

In Queensland, the legal age of consent for anal intercourse is 18 (regardless of gender), while for vaginal intercourse it is 16. In Finland, sex with someone under 16 is not deemed sexual abuse of a child if "there is no great difference in the ages or the mental and physical maturity of the persons involved. It is similar in Norway. In Mexico the federal law varies according to the age gap between partners and is often overruled by regional laws. The age of sexual consent in the Philippines is 12 for all, but contacts with minors (under 18) are an offense if the minor consents to the act for money, gain or any other remuneration or as the result of an influence of any adult person.

You may not know this but, "...it is illegal for an American citizen or resident to
have sex in another country with someone aged under 16, unless the age
difference is less than 4 years, in which case the minimum age is 12. Also under
some circumstances it is possible for members of the U.S. military to also be
charged under state laws.

Each state in the US has it's own age of consent and state laws that apply to that individual state regarding sexual activity. Nearly all of the states require that the male be at least 16 and the female either the same or 17 or 18. Arkansas, Indiana and Iowa allow sexual relations for the male at age 14. Colorado allows the male to legally participate sexually at age 15.

Extra marital affairs may carry moral or religious judgments and consequences in civil or religious law, however it is not illegal in most states. That said as recent as 2001, Viginia prosecuted a man for adultery, and other states allow jilted spouses to sue their ex-partners' lovers for alienation of affections.

This information can change at any time as laws change and therefore may need updating in the future.

Sources include:
Avert.com and Wikipedia.com

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Couples who are already married and those planning on getting married today are all exposed to the easy availability of information about sexuality in all its many forms. Indeed high school and even junior high school children are not immune to this exposure nor are they void of curiosity about knowledge of and desire to experiment sexually. Consequently once a couple begins dating seriously, evolves into exclusivity, becomes engaged, most of the time, marriage follows. Research supports that once married, both partners prefer a monogamous relationship. A monogamous relationship with both partners devoted to one another and willing to experience sexual activity just with one another has been the norm for a very long time. Still, all intentions notwithstanding, myriad numbers of people have extra-marital affairs. No one is immune from having affairs disrupt their lives or the lives of those they care about; they happen to all kinds of people, in all walks of life.

Poor communication , or the lack of it contributes to a wide variey of family issues that may motivate some individuals to seek pleasure or comfort with another partner during their marriage. For example the economic status of each family affects communication. Families in the United States and other coutries have been facing a very difficult time during the current worsening of the economy. More than a million jobs were lost in 2008, more in 2009 and the losses continue in 2010. While congressional leaders, the presidential cabinet and economist advisors struggle to restore economic stability to a path of growth and less unemployment, primary wage earners who have lost their jobs must accept a standard of living that has declined. Many workers with large companies and managerial positions have been forced to let go of people they supervise and take on their job responsibilities. Educators in the public school systems of most states have received pink slips and lost their teaching jobs. Classified employees , county workers, and all sectors of private industry have reduced their work forces. The housing industry and related service businesses have contributred to huge losses in revenue for individuals . This becomes a source of contention, disappointment, depression and sometimes despair for the entire family.

The level of stress and pressure on each parent to cope with what work they do have, children's needs, finances, long hours or mis-matched schedules, not enough sleep and bruised egos are all reasons for desperately seeking something that makes a person feel better and often that is an affair. Those in an on-going affair might feel the pinch economically in using money with an extra partner to consider.

Frequently couples think- if only we could win the lottery or the Publisher's Clearing House, then we'd be ok. It can be depressing to think about your income and people you know who seem to be (or are) wealthier than you. There is an interesting site you might want to take a look at that helps you put your particular economic situation in perspective. Take a look at the Global Rich List. http://http//globalrichlist.com/. Making a comparison can serve to lighten heavy feeling and enable a couple to talk about what they really do have. Leaning toward the positive can increase optimism that the current financial condition will end and that working together through the down times might persuade a partner to feel more inclined to invest energy in the relationship instead of seeking to escape.

What else could you be doing to make things better?

Friday, April 23, 2010


Something important that comes to mind each day when I discuss family issues with classes that I teach at various colleges, is that infidelity isn't just between heterosexual people in marriages. Infidelity happens in same sex couples, couples who are engaged, couples cohabiting, and couples in exclusive dating arrangements. Even in a "friends with benefits" situation emotions can run high from someone in the mix who is not comfortable with sharing.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the biological make up is quite different between men and women and I often hear or see comments from men who feel it is tantamount to impossible to stay faithful and from women who indicate that cheating on them is pretty much unforgiveable. Among some educated young adults there is a growing apprehension then about whether or not to ever get married. They appear convinced that no matter how faithful they might be, the trust factor with a partner is suspect, damaged or not there at all.

Basic trust is essential for the development of a satisfactory relationship. Trust in a love relationship between partners is made up of a feeling which predisposes each person to expect "good things" within that relationship. Psychologically speaking is is considered a prerequisite to a normal development of self esteem. A child who learns to trust their mother for example, is in turn trusted by their mother to become a healthy, mature person. The couple that experiences trust between themselves feels secure and that sense of security, in large part, results from their childhood experiences.

As we mature we experiment more, learning and discovering and for many couples the sense of trust and delight in their partner is completely satisfying and there is no desire to experiment beyond the relationship. For others their morality or religious beliefs enable them to avoid the temptation of taking an attraction to another person to further involvement and action. And yet for some the erotic, new lure of an exciting potential sexual experience draws them into the opportunity, even when their present commitment is quite fulfilling.

American beliefs in general spring from concepts established in the Puritanical era which included strict Christian mores and punishments real and imagined based on biblical interpretations of what God wanted and demanded of them. And while in reality the Puritanical movement was both a religious and a social movement, it is the zeal with which they regarded virtue that we most associate that time period with. The concept of virtue then rides in the same seat as trust for most people when in a committed relationship.

But what if human beings are truly not wired to be monogamous? Are all couples predisposed to infidelity? And why do some indulge and others able to remain sexually faithful? Are we moving toward a much more open concept of expectations in marriages? If so, will this threaten the very existence of marriage as we know it?

Chelsea luxuriated in feelings of self-worth and being adored by her new lover. He was enchanted with her and they met often for long, stimulating conversations over drinks. Their sensual moments were limited in both time and location further enhancing their sexual desires. Chelsea rather liked that, as it almost didn't seem like being unfaithful to her husband because they had not yet slept with one another.
(From Adultery is Universal; But I'm Getting Married Anyway)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Men and women are wired differently, everyone agrees with that right? And we're happy that we are so different as that makes us fundamentally interesting and attractive to one another. Of course it also means that the differences could cause difficulty in relating with one another too, that's a given.

Dr. Louann Brizendine is a member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the National Board of Medical Examiners, and a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Recently she wrote a brief article about the differences in brains between men and women relative to the the size of the male brain when it comes to sexual pursuit. Dr. Brizendine writes:

"Perhaps the biggest difference between the male and female brain is that men have a sexual pursuit area that is 2.5 times larger than the one in the female brain. Not only that, but beginning in their teens, they produce 20 to 25-fold more testosterone than they did during pre-adolescence.

If testosterone were beer, a 9-year-old boy would be getting the equivalent of a cup a day. But a 15-year-old would be getting the equivalent of nearly two gallons a day. This fuels their sexual engines and makes it impossible for them to stop thinking about female body parts and sex".

Does this mean then that men are indelibly programmed to have extra-marital sex. NO. It does mean, according to Dr. Brizendine that "Their visual brain circuits are always on the lookout for fertile mates. Whether or not they intend to pursue a visual enticement, they have to check out the goods". So while a basic difference between our genders might be that men feel compelled to look at other women whether or not they act on how enticing another women looks does not relate to them following through and beginning an affair.

Research shows us that with regard to women on the other hand, that while they may notice or look at other men , they don't have the same amount of driven urge to mate and mate as our male counterparts do. Nevertheless women are not far behind men statistically with regard to infidelity.

The mirror-neuron system in women's brains is more active and larger which allows women to be more insightful and empathic with others, sensing and feeling their feelings or emotions more effectively. This contributes to the desire to feel some safety and trust in a man before having sex with them usually. In general they want to feel that the man will feel something for them that might make him want to call again, be with them again, appreciate and like them.

From the outset, our drives and intentions and needs are different. Most researchers believe that biologically, the male drive, as in animals, is to spread their seed around to as many fertile females as they can, thus producing more of themselves, and females are looking for the biggest, strongest, steadfast and reliable, handsome male to mate with, so that the offspring is the optimum that she can produce. This may actually be at the heart of mate selection.

We are not talking love here. Men can fall in love as much, as often and as fast was women can. And we are not saying that either gender is doomed to having a mate who will not remain exclusive sexually.

Men may not express their emotions as much , but that does not mean they do not run deep. Many times after a divorce, it is the man who is so sensitive and so lonely that their suffering is far more pronounced than that of the wife they parted from.

"Not only is the mature male brain more receptive to closer bonds, but it's also more sensitive to loneliness. Nobody thrives when they're lonely, but it seems to take a major toll on older men. Sixty percent of divorces in couples over the age of 50 are initiated by women, leaving their husbands shell-shocked and devastated". (Brizendine)

Our brains may be different, but learning about how they work and understanding the differences so that we can communicate with one another about those differences is a wise way to tackle issues of concern and to learn how to be more successful in managing relationships that matter to us.

(Reference: Love, Sex and the Male Brain, Louann Brizendine, CNN, 2010)